DENVER — Whatever ways one wishes to describe Broncos’ general manager George Paton, do not call him Chicken George.
Paton made his second bold move in seven days Tuesday when he reached agreement with former Dallas Cowboys’ edge rusher Randy Gregory on a five-year, $70 million contract that has $28 million in guarantees.
9NEWS was the first to report Monday of the Broncos’ interest in Gregory.
The contract is simple: $14 million in each of the 2022, 2023, 2024, 2025 and 2026 season with the first two seasons fully guaranteed.
The $14 million average per year average is stunning for a player who served suspensions related to substance-abuse in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 but also an inspiring story of redemption.
The Gregory agreement came after the former Nebraska product was returning to Dallas on the same five-year, $70 million terms. The Cowboys themselves welcomed Gregory back in a tweet. However, Gregory's agent, Denver-based Peter Schaffer, balked at some contract language and the deal was off. The Cowboys deleted its tweet and the Broncos wound up with their coveted pass rusher.
After reports came out that the Cowboys were complaining about Schaffer pulled the plug, Schaffer told 9NEWS the chronology of the deal. It was actually the Broncos who had the deal done with Gregory on Monday night until Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones stepped in to sweet talk his pass rusher to staying put. Until then, the Cowboys had been slow-playing negotiations while the Broncos' Paton and Indianapolis Colts' general manager Chris Ballard were negotiating hard to get Gregory.
When Jones matched the Broncos' five-year, $70 million offer, Gregory decided to stay put. However, Schaffer explained the Cowboys slipped in contract language that stated guarantees could be voided if the player is fined, not just suspended. It was a deal-breaker for Gregory who decided to take the Broncos' deal.
The deal with Gregory also came one week after Paton pulled off a blockbuster trade to acquire star quarterback Russell Wilson from Seattle in exchange for two first-round draft picks, two second-round draft picks and players Drew Lock, Shelby Harris and Noah Fant.
As for Gregory, Paton and his staff did their homework. The Broncos felt that because Gregory, 29, was younger than Von Miller, 33, and Chandler Jones, 32, he was a better value and has more long-lasting upside. The Broncos never placed a call to Miller’s agent once the free-agent negotiating period opened Monday morning and contrary to many reports, the team wasn’t going to engage in Jones unless his market collapsed.
Gregory’s drug problems were mostly marijuana-related earlier in his career but he has been without incident in almost two years. The NFL relaxed its marijuana rules considerably with its revised collective bargaining agreement prior to the 2020 season.
Gregory had 6.0 sacks in 12 games for the Cowboys last season.
The reports the Broncos received on Gregory is he’s well-liked by teammates in the locker room, practices hard, accepts coaching and is a smart, family man with a wife and daughter. He plays with what football people call a high motor.
A defensive end in the Cowboys’ 4-3 front, Gregory will pair with Bradley Chubb as outside linebackers in the Broncos’ 3-4 alignment for first-year defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero. Gregory joins former 49ers defensive tackle D.J. Jones as the Broncos primary free-agent pickups. Jones received a three-year, $30 million agreement with $20 million guaranteed. The Broncos also signed reserve offensive lineman Ben Braden to a one-year deal for near the four-year service time minimum of $1.035 million.
PHOTOS: Randy Gregory
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